This fine oboe, with three keys only, dates from the early years of this instrument's history. The obow was first developed in Paris and Amsterdam, and Lully is recognised as the first composer to have written music for it. It featured in the first performance of Molire's Ballet de l'Amour, which was given in 1657 and conducted by Lully himself. It also features in the music of Purcell, Bach, Handel and Rameau.
Black wood (ebonised timber) enriched with silver (or pewter polished as silver) was a favourite decoration at the French court from circa 1670. A related oboe, carved in light boxwood with bas reliefs of dancers and musicians, was acquired in 1869 by the South Kensington Museum (see A. Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum, pt. 11, London, 1998, no. 23/1; and Galpin Society Journal, X, 1957).